Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to love someone as much as I love my cats. Anyone that knows me can attest to my affinity for both talking about my two cats and shamelessly forcing people to look at pictures of them on my phone. People are okay and all, but there’s something about cats that spur my unwavering love and devotion in ways human beings just can’t. My parents got me my first kitten when I was 7 years old, and even though I discovered his rotting corpse in the bushes after he got hit by a car a few months later, my adoration for felines has persisted ever since. And while most people fear becoming a crazy cat lady when they get older, I enthusiastically plan on it.
I fully intend on living a life of cats well into old age. I want to have at least six cats, whose names I’ve already taken the liberty of deciding. (So far I’m down to Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov, Herman, Melvin, Kendrick and Llama.) Depending on how long they live, I will replenish my supply approximately every 18 years, or until I perish. Ideally, I’ll ultimately become one of those old frail ladies who takes Christmas portraits with her pets and passionately celebrates all of their birthdays. I have my life pretty figured out.
When I tell people about my life plan to grow old with my cats, I usually get dismissive glances and deep, brooding looks of concern followed by a series of questions. How will you hold a stable job? How will you get a husband? How will you raise kids?
Well, from what I’ve read on Yahoo! News lately, I’ll probably be homeless with no job prospects after college anyway because I’m a humanities major, so I try not to think about the first one too much. And in regards to the second and third questions, most people are surprised to learn that I really have no intention of ever getting married or having kids. Like, at all.
I’m all for the sanctity of marriage and fist bump to those who can make it work, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. The notion of a life long partner whose supposed to love you unconditionally is a nice idea, but especially in our modern society where people are living longer than ever, it just doesn’t seem all that realistic to me. And maybe this is partially because I’m a gross byproduct of what Duke students passive aggressively call “hook-up culture,” but it’s hard to imagine myself in a stable, healthy relationship for more than a few months, let alone an entire lifetime.
But, as a modern and empowered female, I certainly don’t need a man to have kids. So I definitely plan on finding my life fulfillment by embracing the gift of motherhood, right? Uh, hell no.
I know childbirth is supposed to be this beautiful, incredible thing, but there is absolutely nothing appealing to me about having a fetus latch itself onto my uterus, feeding off of my insides for nine months like some parasitic leech. Plus, along with the agonizingly bloody mess that is labor, imagine your cervix stretching 10 centimeters during childbirth. TEN CENTIMETERS. You don’t come back from that.
Not to mention, small children in general just kind of terrify me. With their beady little eyes and flailing limbs—they remind me of large arachnids. And every time I’m around a child, I have a physical reaction to their presence. My heart starts pounding, and my entire body tenses, fearing its next move. I’ve heard that all women are born with some sort of innate maternal instinct, but I’m pretty sure I missed out on that one.
So no, I tell people, I really have no any intention of finding a husband or allowing a baby to claw its way out of my womb. From this I get an array of responses, ranging from a nonchalant “It’s just a phase,” to a panicked “It’s okay. We can fix this.”
But there’s something wrong with that mentality. I know I’m just a naïve college student with no idea what she’s doing the majority of the time she’s doing something, but there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting a life of cats if I genuinely believe that will make me happy. Leading a meaningful life isn’t defined by some archaic formula of a high paying job and picturesque partner and kids. Not everyone wants that. Not everyone is made for that—and that’s okay. We should do what makes us happy, not what someone else tells us should make us happy. So whatever life path I do choose, orthodox or otherwise, I know it will provide me with the personal fulfillment that I long for because I know that it is a path I am choosing for myself. Maybe I’ll find a life mate and maybe I’ll have kids, but for now I’m content with the notion that I will have none of that, and I look forward to living a rewarding life anyway, six cats and all.
Michelle Menchaca is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Thursday.